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Hem stitching

WTate | Posted in The Archives on

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I’m looking for information on hem stitching–the kind found around linen napkins and tablecloths and in heirloom childrens clothes. I have napkins and a tablecloth that need hemming. I’ve tried to find some one with a hem stitching machine here in South Louisiana, but had no luck. Some good machines can do it on dress fabric but are not really successful on heavy linen. Does any one know of a source for this? What is a reasonable price if I find it? Does any one know how to do this kind of hem stitching by hand? Is it a project that can be done by an intermediate needlewoman.

Replies

  1. Bill_Stewart | | #1

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    If you have a full service Singer Sewing Machine dealer, you might ask them. This was a service they used to provide. Also they once sold a hem stitching machine. See if it is still available. Another resource might be a good flea market - you'd be surprised what you can find. Also, contact one of the larger fabric stores in NYC and see if they provide this service or can recommend one to you. We have lost so much of the old crafts because people don't ask for them or use them. Good luck. Bill

    1. Ghillie_C. | | #2

      *I have done this kind of hemming by hand reasonably successfully, but it takes forever!Draw one or two threads out along the hemming line. Fold the seam very accurately and press and baste in place as you normally would. Then, using a fine thread hem into the 'slot' you have created, wrapping the sewing thread round the remaining threads in the fabric to bunch them into twos or threes. At the corners you run straight off the edge, then start again down the next side at right angles. This creates little squares in the corners. When you have done that, go round again on the other side of the slot, whipping the edge and bunching the threads into the same bundles as you did the first time. Does that make sense? you will see it illustrated in oldish embroidery books with sections on white work, drawn thread work or something similar. It is not particularly difficult if you are patient, have excellent eyesight, and are working on a heftyish evenly woven fabric which holds a crease well, but it is not something I would attempt again unless I had a lot of time to spare.Good luck in your search for a machine!Ghillie

      1. TJ | | #3

        *I think you can do hemstitching with a wing needle or double wing needle on a regular sewing machine. Some machines have special hemstitches built in: I have a Viking "Lily" 550, and the first group of stitches on Menu 6 (same as stitches #12 and #13 on the Viking 540) are called hemstitches in the manual, which says to use a wing needle. Carol Laflin Ahles' book "Fine Machine Sewing" (from Taunton Press, same as "Threads") has a whole chapter on hemstitching. She says that "there are 3 basic ways to achieve a hemstitched look on a sewing machine: double wing-needle adjoining rows, single wing-needle adjoining rows, and built-in hemstitches.... any of these 3 methods can be combined with withdrawing threads from the fabric to create a hand-hemstitched look" (p. 69).She mentions "hemstitching as produced on hemstitching machines from the 1920s and 1930s" (p. 68) which suggests that you will have a hard time finding specialized machines these days. However, she says that "today there are more than 30 mchines available that have the two most popular and useful of the hemstitches--the Parisian stitch (resembling the pin stitch made by hand) and the Venetian stitch (resembling entredeux)" (p. 72). She gives lots of information on appropriate fabric, thread, needle, tension, stabilizers, and methods. It looks like you don't even need the special stitches, if you use a wing needle (looks like stabilizer or a lot of spray starch is crucial). She gives directions for double wing needle and 2 passes of straight stitching; and single wing needle and 2 passes of a zigzag stitch. I never understood why it was called "HEMstitching" since it seems to be used mainly for decorative effect, until I saw it illustrated in a book on hand-weaving. It is done by hand while a piece of hand-woven material is on the loom to finish the raw end, rather than leaving fringes (the warp threads; to sewers this is the length of the grain at right angles to the selvage edge). Good for you for saving those good linens. Have fun!

        1. romans | | #4

          *I had the same problem as you. The only place you can find hem stitching machines is back east. there are only 2 models. Only singer made them and they quit making them in 1930. they were originally used for book binding until a better way was found to bind books. I live in Utah and there are 2 shops that locate them, recondition then, put new moters in them and guarantee then. they also mount them in tables. they are very nice units. I know of no other place that does this and I did a lot of research. I had to be on a list for a while before i could even get one. I hemstitch baby blankets for crocheting for a side business I finally bought 1 and it cost 1800.00. the cost is rising it was 1300. 2 years ago cuz they are harder to find. they also ship them anywhere. if you would like more info you can email me....good luck....you could do a great business like i am. (i now live in calif)..i got the machine 2 months ago...

          1. romans | | #5

            *oh i forgot to mention, the wing needles and machines that say they can do a hem stitch can do nothing even close to what this machine can do. it is a waist of time to do it any other way. You can mail what you need to have done to the cotten shop in sandy, utah or murry utah. They charge .50 per inch and will mail it back to you...i can also do it for you....

          2. Diane_U | | #6

            *My Brother sewing machine has several hemstitch heirloom stitches. One removes some threads from the fabric where one wants the stitches to go and then the machine does the rest. There is a book about machine heirloom techniques at the website for Sarah Howard Stone, it's written by Melissa Stone. I hope this helps.

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